Customers Say They'll 'Boycott' Tesco After Staff Ban Pumpkin The Friendly Neighbourhood Cat
Pumpkin the ginger tomcat is known for regularly strolling into the store and having a snooze on some of the tills and has become a big hit with customers.
But store chiefs have now banned the popular moggy from setting up home, saying it is 'not Tesco policy.'
Store leader, Andrew Tabiner, 49, said the cat would be no longer allowed in as he told a local newspaper: "The cat is banned and we are doing our best to show it the door. The bottom line is it should not be in the store, as it is not Tesco policy, and we are doing everything we can to discourage it from coming in. It is absolutely not a shop pet."
It is thought Pumpkin is being fed outside the shop by people nearby and Mr Tabiner added he was probably attracted by the warmth of the store.
Angry customers have since said they will no longer shop at the Tesco Express in Drayton, Norwich, and rushed to support the 'local celebrity'.
One angry person wrote in a local Facebook group: "Not sure how you can 'ban' a cat from anywhere, particularly a cat who is clearly very streetwise since he is a rescue who lived on the streets for years?! Everyone loves him around here and with good reason."
Another said: "Poor pumpkin. He is such a character. I think his supporters should boycott Tesco." However, someone else argued: "I agree Pumpkin is a lovely cat but I also agree that animals shouldn't be in food shops."
His owner Jo Harding, 49, said Pumpkin 'isn't causing any harm' and said he regularly pops into his favourite shops in the town, including an estate agent's and the local pub.
Jo said: "He's no bother I think he just wants a bit of attention off people! We live about 100 yards from Tesco and there's a row of shops. There's an estate agent's, a beautician's and a pub that he goes into but he's mainly in Tesco.
"He was a street cat before we had him so he is very street wise and Tesco is where he spends most of his time. He's been going in there for 18 months now and I know the staff all love him so I'm not sure why he's being stopped after so long. He mainly lies by the door - he's like a security guard!"
Jo said she was 'amazed' by the amount of support the community had for Pumpkin - who even has his own Facebook page. She said: "It came out of the blue, but I was so overwhelmed by the support for six-year-old Pumpkin.
"It's just been crazy he's now had 300 friend requests in the last two days - he's got more friends than me! He's got followers from the USA, Canada and Norway - I have no idea how it's reached that far!
"People were saying they were boycotting Tesco. I just can't believe the overwhelming support we've had. We knew he was well-loved in the community but not to this level! The community spirit was just amazing.
"I appreciate that cats aren't usually meant to be in shops, but I can't stop him unless I keep him in which would be unfair on him. God forbid if anything happens to him the community will be devastated!"
Pumpkin lives with Jo, Jo's husband Lee, daughter Abbie, granddaughter Amelia, and seven other cats and a dog. No wonder he goes for a wander - he wants a bit of peace and quiet.
A Tesco spokesperson said: "Although we love the little ginger cat who visits Acres Way Express a food store isn't the best place for a cat to be, so our colleagues gently encourage him to go out when he tries to come in."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS